How did Hartford become the Insurance Capital of the World

Hartford, Connecticut, one of America’s oldest cities, is reputed to be the “Insurance Capital of the World” and houses headquarters for a number of the world’s major insurance companies. In fact, insurance remains the major industry of the Hartford region. To understand how and why Hartford got this reputation, one would have to delve back into history nearly 300 years, when settlers were creating an agricultural economy along the Connecticut River. As merchants shipped goods overseas, concern mounted about safe passage and risk from fire, storms, pirates, and more.

Merchants decided to share the risks and formed the insurance industry, starting with the Hartford Fire Insurance Group in 1810. Today, companies such as Travelers, Aetna, and many more, call Hartford, Connecticut, “home” and have helped to shape the city into an economic powerhouse. This has attracted wealth and culture, and the attention of such notables as authors Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and firearms developer Samuel Colt.

According to information obtained at www.hartford.govfrom a list called “Hartford ‘Firsts’ and Other Interesting Facts”:

* James Goodwin Batterson collected the first insurance premium in America in 1864.

* Travelers Insurance Company was the leader in a number of things. In 1898, Travelers Insurance Company led the way in using match books as advertising tools. In 1903, Travelers opened the first Insurance School to train its agents. The company established the first corps of safety engineers and introduced the first cash settlement life insurance policy in 1913, advertising, “$10,000 or your money back.” Travelers was the first insurance company to ever issue aircraft liability insurance with a full aviation program, doing so in 1919. In 1956, Travelers became the first insurance company to establish its own weather research center. And in 1958, Travelers Insurance Company stepped up to offer women life insurance at a lower premium than men’s, based upon longevity tables and accident statistics

* Not to be outdone, the Aetna Life Insurance Company erected the world’s largest colonial-style structure – 660 feet in length – and in 1943, Aetna, became the first to insure atomic projects.

In 1835 and 1845, catastrophic fires struck New York City, and many insurance companies did not fulfill payments – Hartford companies did. This seemed to set Hartford on the path to becoming known as “The Insurance Capital of the World.” It was noted that Hartford companies developed a reputation for keeping promises to pay losses, staying solvent, initiating new types of insurance (such as Aetna’s insuring of atomic projects), and riding out disasters successfully.

Today, more than 100 insurance companies are based in Connecticut. The development of the insurance industry in Hartford and throughout Connecticut has led to this state’s recognition as a strong business, economic, educational and cultural base … and “the Insurance Capital of the World.”